Amelia Klem Osterud is an academic librari¬an from Milwaukee who is working diligently on becoming heavily tattooed. Osterud has a master’s degree in history from the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee and writes and lectures on the subject of tattooing. She is the author of “A Life of Her Own Choosing: Artoria Gibbons’ Fifty Years as a Tattooed Lady,” published in the Wisconsin Magazine of History. This is her first book.
“Tattooed ladies were a part of forgotten American history, often dismissed in print as second-rate circus freaks or as monstrous, yet sexy anomalies,” explains author Amelia Klem Osterud.
There is shockingly little documentation recounting the women (and men) who launched the cultural movement of tattooing. Publicity photos show up in general tattooing books, but the real stories behind these sideshow marvels remain a mystery, until now.
The first book of its kind, The Tattooed Lady explores the duality of life on- and offstage for these gutsy women. Through photographs, interviews, work histories, and newspaper articles, women such as Artoria Gibbons, Nora Hildebrandt, and Irene Woodward are fully fleshed out, allowing us a greater understanding of why they got tattooed, the rewards and regrets that came along with that career path, and the women behind their onstage, larger-than-life persona.